Salsa > Salsa/Mambo differences?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Bronzestudent, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. Bronzestudent

    Bronzestudent New Member

    Hey everyone!

    I ask this question because I'm by no means a great Salsa dancer, or Mambo dancer. I know about as much Salsa as everyone else I dance with regularly, which is abot 4-6 moves. Just enough to get by. I know, you're wondering "How can he live only knowing 6 Salsa moves?" but that's the truth.

    So, being really interested in learning more Salsa, I ask my teacher about it, and she says she will teach me some more if I want, but I'd be better off knowing Mambo. Well, I'm kind of disappointed. First, I'd rather learn Salsa, and secondly, I'm the one paying for dance lessons. But I respect my teacher's guidance, knowledge and opinions.

    Basically, with that background, how would you explain to me what the differences are between Salsa and Mambo? Obviously the dance feels a little different, and I guess some Salsa songs you wouldn't Mambo to, and vice versa. Mambo seems to have more of a "Merengue-ey" feel to it, while Salsa seems faster and more "Samba-ish." I probably fail terribly in those analogies, but I'm trying. Salsa just seems more sexy and fun to me. Anyone want to give me an idea about what you think the differences are?

  2. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    I know a guy who only ever does three moves (that's including closed hold basic) and is still fun to dance with. It's not the matter of how many moves you know but how you do the ones you know :wink:

    I wonder what your teacher means by "Mambo". I always find this term a little confusing.

    People often talk about three main styles of salsa dancing -- Cuban (also known as Casino), LA (usually danced on1) and NY (on2). The NY on2 style of salsa is often called Mambo or "NY Mambo" where I live. If the teacher is talking about this Mambo, there's nothing wrong with learning that if this style of salsa is mainstream in the salsa scene of your area. If you live in an on1 salsa scene, you may have a hard time finding people who can dance NY on2/Mambo. There is a thread about the difference between the LA and NY salsa styles (both of which are danced in a slot and look similar).

    I have also seen a ballroom dance pair quickly demonstrating something they call Mambo, which to me looked like a slower and stiffer version of salsa and not like NY mambo at all. I presume this is the Mambo danced so many decades ago during the Mambo boom time. Is this what the teacher is offering to teach? I don't know if it's the same as what some DFers call "ballroom salsa" or totally different, since I've never seen "ballroom salsa".

    In terms of music, some say Salsa is just Mambo with a new, trendier name. I tend to think mambo and salsa sound different , but that's just me. You can dance salsa (or mambo, presumably) to either mambo songs or salsa songs.

    Confused? So am I. :?
  3. Danoo

    Danoo New Member

    yup im confused lol
  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    For on2 there is ET on2 and Power on2 to be considered. There also is on3 which is very similar to on1... :)
  5. DancePoet

    DancePoet Well-Known Member

    I'm looking forward to reading more of this thread!
  6. Bronzestudent

    Bronzestudent New Member

    I guess my question has been somewhat answered. Maybe I've learned more about Salsa and Mambo also. I'm thinking what my teacher calls Mambo would be NY Salsa, or Salsa on 2. That's the way it feels when we dance and really, it is very similar to Salsa on 1.

    It's just ... different. It just doesnt have the, well ... sex appeal ... as Salsa on 1 has! Am I the only one that thinks that? Not that tha's the only reason I dance, or prefer Salsa, but come on, if you're Latin dancing, that's gotta be considered!

    And yeah, I do have fun with the few moves I know, and the ladies I dance with know them well enough by now, that they enjoy the dance, but, like me, would like to know more.
  7. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Just so there's no mistake, ballroom mambo is not the same as ET2. Ballroom mambo has the man break forward on2 while ET2 the man breaks back on2.
  8. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    yeah it is.. different timing/phrasing makes for different feeling/interpretation and hence presentation..

    as for one is more sexy.. no one can generalize.. that depends entirely on u and where u feel it more.. plus it also depends on who u are dancing with and they feel about it.. connecting with the other is a big part of feeling sexy too..

    Mambo and Salsa are initially music genres .. and they are different interms of music.. i didnt study music so i dont know how to explain it.. but i hear the difference without confusion.. hence, the phrasing of the steps and when to break is different although they both follow a 4/4 count structure..

    this said u can easily dance on1 to mambo and on2 to salsa without problem.. if thats how u feel it.. its preferences nothing more when it comes to dancing..

    there are other differences.. but not significant and certainly cannot be generalized in this day and age .. as more and more versatile dancers are in the scene and are mixing it up interms of body styling, shines and moves.. so the main difference is timing/phrasing in general..

    whatever timing you are on with your partner does not matter in my personal vies.. its HOW u do it that gets my attention, not what.. thats the key alot of people miss as they get concerned with the small stuff..

    and yes.. it takes time.. so take your time and enjoy..
  9. Danoo

    Danoo New Member

    Can i ask what is ET ?
  10. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    My bad, that's the Eddie Torres 2.
  11. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

  12. mambochino

    mambochino New Member

    hey, i got an idea. i know this question comes up from time to time for the beginners.

    i wonder if the administrator can post an article on top of this forum so readers can come and read? :p
  13. Bronzestudent

    Bronzestudent New Member


    I appreciate all the replies. And now I know that Eddie Torres has a Mambo named after him! How did that happen, like, sure he's quite a dancer, but that's pretty neat to have your own Mambo.

    I'll just keep on dancing, and having fun with it.
  14. cocodrilo

    cocodrilo New Member

    Just read some interesting stuff on another site in which a person said mambo originated when people were talking to the voodoo gods! Hmmm. Also that "mambo" is an expression used in NY to mean salsa. (Incidentally, they were not refering to anything ballroom...)
  15. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    Welcome to the salsa world bronze student.

    Giving your name, my guess is that you are in a ballroom dance school environment. :wink:

    As I understand, many ballroom teachers is good at the ballroom stuff, but got their own version of what they call salsa, and the salsa lovers call ballroom “salsa”.

    Take a look at the salsa clubs in your area, visit the places, and try out your salsa in a “field test”.

    Find the style you like, and make sure it is used in your area. Find out where you can learn that style, and go for it. If this means trying a new teacher, then do it. You will get more/better salsa for your money. Switching teacher from time to time is necessary to develop your “own” style. Having different teachers for different dances is normal, so I’m not asking you to give up your bronze/silver/gold study teacher.

    Salsa’s strong side is the social dance floor out in salsateques all over the world. It’s a living thing. All the variation of style and ways of expressing the music is just adding to the fun.
  16. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    of course, the biggest difference is, although they're both 5 letters, that

    Mambo is spelt m a m b o
    Salsa is spelt s a l s a

    bet no one realized this tricky observation before :lol:
  17. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    I love your definition Sabor!
  18. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Now that we have the appropriate emoticon...

    :eyebrow: :eyebrow: :eyebrow: :eyebrow: :eyebrow:

    Ahhh this is soooo satisfying :lol:
  19. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    oh? easily satisfied aren't we? :lol:
  20. mexi_gabacho

    mexi_gabacho New Member

    The funny part is that Sabor is right...

    I've seen and heard a million discussions on "what's the difference between mambo and salsa?", and I've seen people break this down to all kinds of details and come up with lists of differences.

    It perplexes me, because as a muscician who has played this stuff for years and years, I happen to know that musicially, they are exactly the same. Some might say that mambo on basically Salsa On2. Some might say that mambo is what salsa used to be in the old school days. Some might say that mambo is a totally different type of music and you can actually HEAR the difference. Hmmmmm.

    To me, it is all just music... and the same music at that. If people insist on categorizing and scientifically and historically breaking things down, then go for it. But, all my life, they have been the same thing. It is music, not science. It should be categorized by the heart and soul, not the brain. It is a feeling, not a certainty that can be broken down.

    Ok, enough philosophy for today :) Essentially what I'm saying is that musically, mambo and salsa are the same. Perhaps what the instructor was talking about was learning to dance salsa 'On2' which is reffered to as 'Mambo' alot of times these days?

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